As a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2009, current Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez was arguably a top five starting pitcher in the game (15-10, 2.87 ERA, 238K). It was his best season in the major leagues, as he sports a career 4.23 ERA with a strikeout rate much less than his dominant season one year ago.
Maybe that convinced Brian Cashman and the Yankees that he could succeed in a second stint with the team. He had his worst season since his sophomore campaign in 2004 with the Bronx Bombers, recording a 4.91 ERA. Some players are unable to adjust to the playing for the much scrutinized Yankees and their big market. He shouldn't have felt too much pressure this season, though, as he was joining a deep rotation and not expected to be the ace.
After a horrid start to the 2010 season, Vazquez started pitching better and looked like he was going to be able to turn things around and least be a rotation guy that could be trusted heading into the playoffs. But in his last seven starts, he has a 6.69 ERA.
The result of his recent struggles? He has been replaced in the rotation, at least temporarily, by young phenom Ivan Nova. Nova pitched well against a powerful Toronto Blue Jays lineup on Monday and could conceivably keep Vazquez buried in the bullpen. An ERA of around five with multiple blow-ups this season (he's given up at least five runs in six starts) forced manager Joe Giaradi's hand to make the move.
While all of his best seasons have come in the National League (with Montreal or Atlanta), something else should have signaled that he wouldn't have a good season in 2010.
Ever since his second season in 1999, Vazquez has been consistently erratic year to year. His ERA has gone down, then up, then down, then up, etc. every year. Nothing has been quite as dramatic as his 2.87 last season to his current ERA of 5.05, however.
Not many expected Vazquez to be as dominant as he was last season with Atlanta, as he would have to pitch in the tough American League East, but a bump from the starting rotation due to lack of success has to come as a major shock. His second stint in New York will probably go down as even worse than the first one, unless he is able to right the ship quickly.